In my new role, as Associate Representative, on the board of BSPI (Bridal Show Producers International), I have a resurgent interest in the relationship between show producers, exhibitors/advertisers, and the bride. One of the prime directives for BSPI is to be an organization for ethical and competent bridal show producers… to promote high standards in the wedding wndustry.
Having exhibited at close to 100 bridal shows, during my life as a DJ, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly.
In the end, here’s what I believe one should expect from a bridal show producer.
“They should do what they say they are going to do, to promote the show. Their promotion to the bride and to the exhibitor should be ethical, accurate, and not deceptive. The show environment should be easy to navigate, have aisles that are consistent with its expected traffic, have a floor plan (including handouts), clear signage, and have reasonable limits on noise from competitive booths”
Is this an all-inclusive list? No, not really. There are other, lesser issues, but I think these are the big ones.
Ultimately, exhibitors are simply looking for the producer to deliver an audience of brides and their entourage to an event space, filled with booths, for a face-to-face experience.
My perspective on show turnout is that exhibitors focus too much on measuring exactly how many brides attend. One can have too many brides for a time frame or a space, and have a tougher selling situation. This exhibitor angst can psychologically trap bridal show producers into a game of attendance projections.
Bridal Show attendance predictions are an exercise in crystal ball gazing. As is they say in the investment business, ‘Past performance is not necessarily an indication of future performance.’
In my opinion, the accountability is in the marketing and promotion of the show. Did a producer do what they said they would do? Nothing more.
The One Bad Apple Problem: What taints ethical bridal show producers, and creates reasonable skepticism and paranoia among exhibitors is blatant unethical behavior.
During a show earlier this year, a bridal show producer (NOT a BSPI member) tried to mask a lower-than-expected (aka predicted) turnout by playing a shell game with bride badges.
Essentially, the producer had the staff put bride badges on all women in the wedding party… brides, wedding party, friends. Vendors can be fooled for a little time, but it didn’t take them long to figure out they were being bamboozled by the producer.
At a more recent show, the same producer was selling 10′ x 10′ booths. That’s a common configuration. Problem was, when exhibitors arrived for the show, their spaces were only 8′ x 8′.
Dance Floor Math: You don’t have to be a math major to know you’re getting cheated in a big way. As a former DJ, I simply do the small math of multiplying 10 x 10 and 8 x 8. The promised booth layout was 100 square feet. The actual booth space was 64 square feet. That’s a deficiency of 36%.
In the words of Chef Emeril LaGasse, “This is not rocket science, folks!”
Here’s My Logic: As an exhibitor, one can expect a larger turnout or a smaller one. And one can be pleased or disappointed at the actual traffic flow. But that is purely from individual perspective. I can elect not to participate in the next show, if I choose, because I think a promoter has been ineffective in delivering a result, but being ineffective is not being unethical or deceptive.
However, when it comes to delivering a booth space that 36% smaller than offered and agreed to, that’s another story. I would be demanding 36% of booth fee be refunded. And then, I wouldn’t do business with that show producer, again.
In my view, the first scenario about badges is primarily an ethical issue (deception). The second one (booth space) is both a business and ethical issue. Exhibitors who have their act together, arrive with a plan for their 10′ x 10′ space. To suddenly have to function in an 8′ x 8′ is unacceptable at many levels.
The BIG Question: What Would You Do???
- Are these scenarios as clear cut for you as they are for me?
- Are there more issues and other perspectives?
- Under what conditions would you continue to business with this bridal show producer?
Please get involved in the conversation by contributing your comments and perspective.
The Wedding Marketing Authority